In today's video game market, there is a lot of talk of "console wars" and choosing the "winners." And after all, who doesn't want to know who's "winning" the "war?" Is it Microsoft, with their heavyhanded business practices and overwhelming number of titles? Nintendo, with one of the most powerful crazes in gaming history? Or perhaps Sony, with a technically mind-blowing console that's quickly gaining steam?
Maybe though, we don't need to choose a winner. Maybe the "console war" not only isn't over yet (by a long shot), but it has also turned from a single fight to a multifaceted conflict. World War II and the Pacific War, if I may.
Kevin published an article recently over at Anime Explosion detailing his opinions on the "True Winner of the Console War." The Xbox 360, claimed Kevin, is the clear-cut winner of the current business battle. There is one major fact omitted from that assumption: The popularity of a little thing called the Wii.
So, how do we define a winner in the console wars? Consoles sold? Games sold? Total profit? Consumer mindshare? The truth is, these are all separate concepts that must be seen as different parts of what makes a winner, and some winners might pull something completely new out of the hat.
The Xbox 360 has clearly won over the "hardcore" demographic, with millions of predominantly male gamers aged 13 to 30 purchasing the console. Halo 3 sold phenominally, and with tons and tons of triple-A exclusive titles on the system, it is hard not to give the Xbox the gold medal offhand.
Nevertheless, do you see your grandpa playing the Xbox 360? Is your girlfriend or wife sitting down to play some video games with you, the one thing you never thought you'd see her do? Or perhaps you are one of those people, and you are finding that games are not the complex, violent testosterone-rides you always thought they were. This is the power of the Wii.
Nintendo's unique, even revolutionary, new console has taken the world by storm, selling out left and right, defying expectations set by industrial analysts, the gaming press, and even fans. That's not to say that everything is fine and dandy in the Nintendo camp. There have only been five to ten truly high-quality titles released on the Wii. (Some would even argue for less)
The Wii has failed to pull in the hardcores as the Xbox 360 has, but why should it? Nintendo never really developed their console for you to buy mature titles on it. The platform has done exactly what it was supposed to: bring new audiences into the gaming fold, and drastically expand the video game market.
As for Sony's Playstation 3, it is sadly not a contender in the "war" at the moment. While the console is very powerful, and has a lot of potential (and quite a few potential hits), it is lacking the games library and sales that the Xbox 360 and Wii have respectively.
So who is the winner? As you might have surmised, there are two. The Xbox 360 is winning with its vast library of hit titles, thriving online community, and ability to captivate gamers. The Wii ties the 360, though, because it has created a new branch of the console war all its own. Neither of the competing platforms are convincing non-gamers to pick up a controller, so the Wii wins by default, in a category of its own.
Clearly this is all speculative, and only time will tell what changes are in store for the gaming market. We are only one (or two depending on your reckoning) years into a five- to six-year process, so things could really turn around. Meanwhile, fanboys are taking up weapons, and the companies have begun their arms race. Get inside your fallout shelter with your favorite console, because it's going to be a long war.